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Old 10-23-2006, 05:52 AM   #1
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Default Rooney Upset Over Officiating

Four turnovers set stage for Steelers' 41-38 overtime loss
Monday, October 23, 2006
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


ATLANTA -- The Steelers played another game for the ages yesterday. Only to them, it's getting old. They let a double-digit lead slip away for the second time this season under a mound of turnovers, lost quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to a mild head injury and lost to the Atlanta Falcons, 41-38, in overtime.

Morten Andersen, a 46-year-old kicker who came out of retirement earlier this year, kicked a 32-yard field goal to win it after the Falcons won the coin toss to begin overtime, took the ball and never gave it up.

The Steelers' 2-4 record left at least one starter pessimistic about their chances to make it to the Super Bowl again, and an official's disputed call at the end of regulation that cost them a chance at a victory left their owner fuming.

"It's going to be tough after today's loss, going back to the Super Bowl," defensive end Brett Keisel said. "I'm not saying we can't do it, obviously, but we're making it that much harder on ourselves."

Hines Ward, returning to his home state, had the most productive game of his NFL career with three touchdown receptions and 171 yards receiving. But his Steelers teammates gave the ball away almost as often as Ward caught it and wasted that effort.

Falcons tight end Alge Crumpler caught three of Michael Vick's four touchdown passes, two of them after Steelers turnovers. Atlanta scored its first 28 points after three Steelers fumbles and one onside kick. Still, the Steelers were prepared to line up for a field goal to win it at the end of regulation.

With 25 seconds left, quarterback Charlie Batch completed a 25-yard pass to Ward to Atlanta's 33. The Steelers, with no timeouts left, quickly lined up and Batch spiked the ball with eight seconds to go. Time enough for Jeff Reed to try a 51-yard field goal in the Georgia Dome to win it. But the officials called a 5-yard penalty on Nate Washington for a false start -- they said he flinched at the line -- and by rule 10 seconds were run off to end regulation.

"These officials should be ashamed of themselves," Steelers chairman Dan Rooney said. "That last call, you don't call that kind of call."

Rooney did not limit his criticism of referee Ron Winter's crew to that one call, either. He made reference to "ridiculous calls," including one in which Reed was penalized for tripping Falcons return man Allen Rossum near the end of the first half.

"They said he tripped him," Rooney said. "He got beat out, the guy dodged him, he got faked. He didn't trip him, he [Rossum] ran over him and fell."

Coach Bill Cowher said he did not want to say anything about the flinch call because "I don't feel like giving [the NFL] any more money."

Rooney, though, said, "I don't care. They need to know."


For the second time this season, the Steelers lost a game in which they outgained their opponents. They piled up 473 yards to Atlanta's 399.

They also wasted one of their best passing games in history. Roethlisberger completed 16 of 22 passes for 238 yards, no interceptions and three touchdowns -- one to Ward for 11 yards, one to Heath Miller for a yard and one to Washington for 10. Roethlisberger, though, left midway through the third quarter when he was smacked to the ground after an incompletion by defensive end Chauncey Davis on what appeared to be an illegal helmet-to-helmet hit.

"The league will handle that," Cowher said.

Roethlisberger, who returned to the sideline in the fourth quarter, appeared to be OK after the game, although Cowher said he had no update on the injury.

Batch came on and completed 8 of 13 for 195 yards, two touchdowns of 70 and 17 yards to Ward, the latter with 3:19 left to tie the score. Batch also threw no interceptions, and the quarterbacks combined for 433 yards passing.

But turnovers, Vick and Crumpler killed them. The Steelers contained Vick's passing and running most of the day, but they kept giving him the ball in their zone, and he took advantage of it.

Santonio Holmes fumbled the game's first punt at his 22, and, on the next play, Vick gave Atlanta a 7-0 lead when he passed 22 yards to Crumpler for a touchdown.

After Reed kicked a 28-yard field goal and Roethlisberger threw two touchdown passes to vault the Steelers ahead, 17-7, in the second quarter, Roethlisberger fumbled a snap from Jeff Hartings at his 25. Vick made them pay again when he threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Crumpler.

Atlanta then pulled an onside kick that went off Steelers safety Tyrone Carter's hands when he was hit by Jimmy Williams. Jerious Norwood recovered for Atlanta at his 49. Vick completed that mission by tossing a 17-yard touchdown pass to Michael Jenkins.

"It happened so fast," Carter said. "I couldn't fair catch it because it hit the ground first. They caught us by surprise. I saw it, but, by the time I got to it, they were all there."

The Steelers completed their grand slam when Willie Parker, who was bottled up all game and managed only 47 yards on 20 carries, lost a fumble midway through the third quarter at his 26. The Falcons made it four Steelers bumbles, four touchdowns when Warrick Dunn ran up the middle for a 1-yard touchdown to end that short series.

"It was a crazy game," Steelers linebacker James Farrior said. "A little bit of everything that could possibly happen happened in that game."

Nevertheless, things looked up for the Steelers, when Batch and Ward struck back immediately. Ward caught a Batch pass at the Falcons' 40 and somehow eluded three defenders the rest of the way to complete a 70-yard score to put the Steelers back in front, 31-28.

But Atlanta answered with a 75-yard drive on six plays with Vick hitting Crumpler for a 31-yard score to go back ahead, and Andersen's 25-yard field goal extended the lead to 38-31.

But the Steelers tied it up, 38-38, quickly on their next series. Batch completed a 44-yard pass to Washington and followed that with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Ward with 3:19 to go.

That set up some final theatrics on a game that will teeter by going down in either infamy or ignominy. The Falcons' Michael Koenen kicked a 56-yard field goal near the end to seemingly win it. But that was waived off because the Steelers had called a time out. Koenen tried it again and missed, but safety Troy Polamalu was penalized for running into the kicker.

Koenen was injured on the play, so Andersen came out and missed, barely, from 52 yards, which set up the final, controversial Steelers plays of overtime.

"I'd have liked to see Jeff get a shot in regulation," guard Alan Faneca said.

It didn't happen, just as much of what they want to accomplish in 2006 is not happening.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06296/732211-66.stm
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Old 10-23-2006, 06:31 AM   #2
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Default Re: Rooney Upset Over Officiating

In this case, I have to disagree with Rooney. We had plenty of chances to put that game away minus the calls. That game should have been over at halftime. In my opinion (and maybe I was watching a different game), but Jeff Reed did in fact trip Rossum. Plain and simple.

Place the blame where it deserves to be placed. You can't turn the ball over four times (three of those inside our own 30 which led to 21 Falcon points) and expect to win. We handed the Falcons that game on a silver platter and they took advantage of our mistakes. Sounds familiar.
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Old 10-23-2006, 06:50 AM   #3
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Default Re: Rooney Upset Over Officiating

Rooney should be directing his anger at Cowher for not having our players focused enough to deliver the goods, there were far too many self-inflicted wounds yesterday to list here!!
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Old 10-23-2006, 06:50 AM   #4
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Default Re: Rooney Upset Over Officiating

Although I agree that we lost the game due to our own mistakes, the officiating has gone from bad to worse. They definitely made some screwy calls yesterday that changed the outcome of the game. Now, I'm not one to whine and blame the refs for losing......but if this trend continues, no football game is going to worth squat. The refs basically can do anything they want. The Rooneys are highly respected in the league. Maybe if they got together with the other owners and waged a formal complaint something would change. It would benefit everybody.
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Old 10-23-2006, 06:50 AM   #5
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Default Re: Rooney Upset Over Officiating

I thought Reed tripped Rossum on purpose as well - it was a TD-saving move, IMO, and I can't really blame him for doing it.
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Old 10-23-2006, 07:05 AM   #6
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Default Re: Rooney Upset Over Officiating

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Originally Posted by X-Terminator View Post
I thought Reed tripped Rossum on purpose as well - it was a TD-saving move, IMO, and I can't really blame him for doing it.
No doubt. I would want/expect Reed to make that play and take the penalty every time.
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Old 10-23-2006, 08:15 AM   #7
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Default Re: Rooney Upset Over Officiating

Rooney needs to stop sounding like other team's owners, coaches, and players. Don't blame anyone but your team and/or your coach!! PERIOD!!!
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Old 10-23-2006, 08:48 AM   #8
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Default Re: Rooney Upset Over Officiating

Quote:
Originally Posted by 83-Steelers-43 View Post
In this case, I have to disagree with Rooney. We had plenty of chances to put that game away minus the calls. That game should have been over at halftime. In my opinion (and maybe I was watching a different game), but Jeff Reed did in fact trip Rossum. Plain and simple.

Place the blame where it deserves to be placed. You can't turn the ball over four times (three of those inside our own 30 which led to 21 Falcon points) and expect to win. We handed the Falcons that game on a silver platter and they took advantage of our mistakes. Sounds familiar.
Unfortunately, I completely agree.
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Old 10-23-2006, 08:57 AM   #9
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Default Re: Rooney Upset Over Officiating

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Originally Posted by X-Terminator View Post
I thought Reed tripped Rossum on purpose as well - it was a TD-saving move, IMO, and I can't really blame him for doing it.
I agree. I think most pro PKs would have done the same thing in that situation. What I want to know here is - why wasn't there a flag thrown on the hit on Ben? That was clearly a flagrant helmet to helmet hit after the ball was thrown. There were 2 Atlanta defenders coming in on his head and another one tackling him by his knees in unison. Didn't Chad Brown get a roughing the passer call for knocking Vick down supposedly after a pass was thrown earlier in the game? The biggest problem with NFL refs today (other than being as blind as bats at times) can be summed up in one word....CONSISTENCY. I wish Johnny Grier would come out of retirement - at least he was consistent with his calls.
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Old 10-23-2006, 09:09 AM   #10
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Default Re: Rooney Upset Over Officiating

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I agree. I think most pro PKs would have done the same thing in that situation. What I want to know here is - why wasn't there a flag thrown on the hit on Ben? That was clearly a flagrant helmet to helmet hit after the ball was thrown. There were 2 Atlanta defenders coming in on his head and another one tackling him by his knees in unison. Didn't Chad Brown get a roughing the passer call for knocking Vick down supposedly after a pass was thrown earlier in the game? The biggest problem with NFL refs today (other than being as blind as bats at times) can be summed up in one word....CONSISTENCY. I wish Johnny Grier would come out of retirement - at least he was consistent with his calls.
I came on here to ask that very question! To my eyes that hit looked very late and helmet first. Why no flag????!!!
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